10. (1945-1948) The Bar Mitzvah and Zionism
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THE BAR MITZVAH AND ZIONISM IN THE FALL of 1945, the institute had to go through an overhaul. Many repairs were needed, and the filth was atrocious. The cleanup would take months. All of the institute’s supplies had been depleted. Márkus Kohn, Hermann Zoldán, Ernö Rosenblüth, and I continued with our duties. The four of us were responsible for picking up food from the Joint and delivering it to our institute. Dr. Kanizsai gave us plenty of other duties, too. In addition, I was still responsible for preparing wood for the furnace to keep the rooms heated. I had become a workhorse. After the winter break, classes resumed. I attended school halftime , so my duties were cut in half. Nobody had to pay at the time; the school was free. Péter had returned to the institute, and he shared his traumatic experience. He was lucky though because his mother was still alive. Sári néni returned to the institute as an instructor. She was very happy to see me because we hadn’t seen each other since she left me at the Red Cross. I continued with my duties at the institute. When my daily chores were completed, I attended classes. I was now in the fourth grade. Things held steady throughout the winter. A year had already gone by since I had waited for a letter from my mother. Everyday, I thought of my family, wishing they would come for me. I had to be strong like a man and not show my emotions. Besides, I felt different now; I had grown and had to present myself as being more independent . Around this time, Szálasi got what he had coming, which was politically pleasing to me. American soldiers arrested him in Austria. They found King Stephen’s crown and a gold hand in a trunk that he possessed. The Americans confiscated the items. Szálasi was sent to the Budapest jail where he awaited his trial. Later, the court found 73 1 0 C H A P T E R (1945–1948) ch10_193032_Gallaudet_Dunai 5/14/02 11:12 AM Page 73 him guilty of his crimes and ordered him to hang. The people were elated with the outcome. When the hanging was complete, the people in the city of Budapest celebrated. In the summer, we orphans continued to live at the institute. Our only requirement was to be in by eight o’clock in the evening. The students who were not orphans went home to their families. Because Péter was not an orphan, he was able to attend only daytime classes and go home to his mother in the evenings and on the weekends. At least I got to see him during the day. I was envious of him; however, staying at the institute wasn’t all bad because we were free to do as we pleased. The summer was full of unstructured time, and I went to the circus and movies frequently. All of the excursions were free to anyone who was deaf. I also relaxed at the institute with my friends, often going to a man-made lake close by. The water was filthy and swimming in it was illegal, but I swam anyway. I found the water to be soothing. I also began attending a Bible study class, which was held four hours each week.1 A new boy named Pál Löwenstein entered the institute . Prior to the war, Pál had attended one of the largest Hungarian deaf schools in Budapest, established in 1802. It was a government school, not a Jewish school. Pál and I were the same age. His father introduced us to each other and told me, “You two will be good friends and you need to help each other.” I agreed. From that point on, Pál became my best friend. I taught him chess and table tennis. During the fall, I received a letter from Lenke. She complained of the struggles at home in Komjat and explained that she would be unable to care for me. I shared the letter with the nurse at the institute because I couldn’t fully comprehend Lenke’s writing. As I watched the nurse read the letter, she began to cry. The nurse explained that Lenke and Salgo were living together at my home in Komjat and that Lenke was in a helpless situation. They were barely surviving. I was sad about the...


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Subject Headings

  • Jews -- Hungary -- Biography.
  • Holocaust survivors -- Biography.
  • Dunai, Harry I., 1934-.
  • Jewish children in the Holocaust -- Biography.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Hungary -- Personal narratives.
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